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Woolworths surveillance creep continues across the country

The slow AI in-store build.


Woolworths continues the roll out of a new self-checkout feature that uses AI surveillance to monitor item scanning and send alerts when errors are made.


It has been announced that supermarket chain Woolworths has recently expanded the use of a new self-serve checkout feature at hundreds more locations across the country.

The technology uses camera surveillance and AI scanners to detect when items are not put through self-checkouts correctly.

If an error occurs, footage of the scan appears on the cash register screen, while lights go off treating the customer as a criminal for even the slightest of mishaps. A light on the camera above the cash register also changes from green, to red or orange.

The new technology uses camera vision and AI to detect when items aren’t scanned correctly.

The roll-out follows a recent trial phase which began in February 2022 at the Seven Hills Woolworths in NSW.

Since then, the technology has been rolled out for use at more than 250 stores.

The technology will also be used as a ‘training tool’ for new Woolworths staff.

Woolworths told reporters it is continuing to roll out the technology at more stores across NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

“It helps reduce misscans and is one of a number of initiatives we’ve rolled out across our checkouts to make shopping more convenient and seamless,” a spokesperson said.

“While most customers do the right thing at our self-serve checkouts, we’re all busy and mistakes can easily happen.”

Good thing the prying eyes of Big Brother are watching your every movement.

How kind of them!

The technology has been rolled out for use at more than 250 stores and continues to be expanded. 

“We’d like to thank our customers for their support while we’ve implemented this initiative.”

However, not everyone is happy with the introduction of the technology.

Some Woolworths customers have shared their dismay online, stating they believe it is an invasion of their privacy.

“Dear Woolworths, I don’t appreciate being treated like a criminal,” one person tweeted.

“I’m sick of standing waiting for assistance because they think I’ve stolen something,” another added.

“If you leave anything in your trolley or basket they lock up and won’t proceed to payment without intervention from the frazzled supervisor,” a third piped in.

Another shopper added the technology had flagged them simply because they had a toddler in their trolley.

Signs are displayed at both the front of store and entrance to the self-service checkout area in every applicable store.

The supermarket added it has ‘strict policies’ to ‘protect customer privacy’.

Ah, yes. Those words make me feel safe that third-parties aren’t watching..

The new technology continues to expand even after backlash hit several retailers last year — including Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys — who were using facial recognition cameras at the front door.

“The Australian community was shocked and angered by the use of facial recognition in retail settings. We know that people are really concerned about facial recognition being used in this way,” CHOICE consumer data advocate Kate Bower said.

“Australia’s privacy law is struggling to keep up with the ever-evolving uses of facial recognition technology.”

While this looks like a simple and ‘efficient’ measure introduced to shops, it is one piece of a much larger digital vision.


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